Class of 2015 Success Stories: Musical Arts

CLASS OF 2015 SUCCESS STORY: MUSICAL ARTS

By Bob Cunningham

Maria Ziegman picked up the flute in fifth grade and knew it was the instrument for her.

Now 22, the Bowling Green State University senior graduated with a 3.8 GPA and degrees in music education and music performance.

“I had always heard of Bowling Green as having a strong music education program and I decided if I was going to go for music education I was going to go to a school that was going to make me prepared,” said Ziegman, who grew up in Fremont, Ohio.  

Ziegman wasn’t able to attend the graduation ceremony because she is student-teaching at a junior high school in Oswego, Ill. She credits the music department at BGSU for her quick placement as a student teacher.

“All of my professors were very supportive of what I wanted to do,” Ziegman said. “I think all of the students in the music building — that’s where I spent most of my time — they were all nice to be with and we all supported each other. 

“Being at Bowling Green has actually allowed me get to Traughber Junior High School in Oswego through its distance student teacher program, which is new for the music building in the last year. So, I am out here student-teaching in Illinois because I heard some really awesome things about how they structure their music programs.

Ziegman is specializing in teaching instrumental music to sixth, seventh and eighth graders while in Oswego, about an hour southwest of Chicago.

“After being at the junior high level this semester I think I’d really love to be a junior high teacher,” she said. “The sixth graders are really funny because they’re all wide-eyed, they’re in awe of junior high, and they’re still a little bit scared. And then you see the eighth graders and it’s like old hat, but their abilities have grown so much in three years.

Ziegman singled out Dr. Conor Nelson as a major influence during her time at Bowling Green.

“He was my flute instructor. I spent all four years every week seeing him for an hour working on flute lessons,” she said. “He was really quite a mentor to me and supported me and has helped me grow into who I am right now.

“The band methods classes I’ve taken and the classes I’ve taken with Dr. Nelson, they basically show you what you’re capable of and how you’re capable of achieving it through your own musical abilities, like your own performance. And then they show you what some of the best strategies to get your students to feel that same success. I think just learning to apply my experiences and take my experiences and use them to make myself a better teacher and provide my own students that insight that they might not have thought of yet.”

Flute is Ziegman’s primary instrument, but she is required to learn all of them for this teaching position. She’s been playing a lot of trombone while in Oswego and said she’s “pretty decent at the moment.

“Once you learn a woodwind instrument like flute, saxophone, or clarinet, those are very transferable and I think it’s very easy to move between those,” Ziegman said. “As soon as you learn a brass instrument — the trumpet, trombone, or baritone — all of that is very transferable to each other. Once you’ve learned a woodwind and a brass instrument, you’re doing pretty good.”

At Bowling Green, she took a string methods class for a semester in which she learned to play the violin, viola, cello and string bass. She also had some experience in high school playing percussion, which is coming in handy at the moment as she is teaching a sixth-grade percussion class.

And now that Ziegman has experienced teaching firsthand, she has found that she likes it as much as she does performing.

“The kids are all really curious and they all want to know how everything works,” she said. “And it’s really awesome because I still get to play my flute and show them what it should sound like or a better way of fingering notes and such. It’s really the best of both worlds, I think. I get to see them conduct the music, which is beautiful to hear, and see the students be able to do it.” 

Ziegman plans on getting at least a master’s degree in administration in the near future because it can be useful in running a band program.  

“Most of the job as a band instructor takes place outside the classroom,” she said. “ You’ve got to organize rehearsals, communicate with parents, set up trips and order instruments."

But that’s down the road a little bit. For now, Ziegman is able to reflect a little on her time at Bowling Green. 

“I think the biggest thing I took away from BGSU was, you’ve got to shoot for the moon, and even if you don’t hit the moon, you’ll get farther than you would’ve thought.”